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Promising sectors to work for in Indonesia (Part 1)

As a person who studied engineering but ended up working in human resources department, I often get this question, “Wow why does your work is so different with what you studied at school?” Unsurprisingly, I also often meet people whose work and degree does not match at all. There are countless possibilities for this mismatch. Ranging from “It was the only job opportunity that I had at that time”, “I just want to try something different”, “This job gives me financial stability that I need”, etc. For me my reason is “I was not fully informed with my decision at that time.”

Since high school, I was pretty much convinced that I was really into things related to people because for the reason I don’t know, I really love interacting with people, understanding them, and making them happy. I was so convinced that I would like to take psychology for my tertiary education but I was not brave enough to make that decision. At that time what happened was, none of my family members had background in psychology, none my friends studied psychology, and no role model I had was a psychologist. To be honest, I think I did not push myself hard enough to find enough information to make proper decision.

After I went to college and worked, I met A LOT of people who thought that they made wrong decision related to their major and felt they were not fully informed when they made that decision. Fascinated by this fact, few months ago I searched in google to figure out whether we have websites or blogs that can provide information about college majors. I stumbled upon and found this website awesome because it provided comprehensive information about various majors.

Being amazed by this website, I braced myself to contact Ina Liem, CEO of She was very warm and friendly. She even invited me to the launching of her new book “Majors for the future.”

When I read her book, I felt so happy knowing a lot of things I did not known before. One thing I like most from this book was how this book told me about career trend in Indonesia. For me this was unique because most of the career trend that I read was mostly driven by research in US or Europe.

I know that I may not be able to change my major because I have graduated (and I do not regret the decision I took engineering as my major) but I realize that I still need to pick major for my master degree. I would like to share what I found from her book in two parts due to abundant insights I get from it. I told her about my plan to share and she was very excited about it!

There are multiple sectors that Indonesia currently faces and requires improvements. This creates demand of specific skill set that currently is still rare in Indonesia. According 'Majors for The Futurue' there are 6 sectors that possess that characteristic. In this article I would like to tell 3 of them which are agriculture, renewable energy, and marine.

Agriculture: Untapped potential accross value chain

On the past few years, we lose counts on how many restaurants have been opened. Culinary business seems to be one of the most lucrative business in Indonesia right now. However there is bigger underutilized potential on other part of value chain

One of the opportunity in agriculture is coffee production. It is estimated that by 2020 we are going to face global coffee scarcity. According to Bisnis Indonesia, Indonesia has 1.3 million hectare of coffee field but only produces 700.000 ton annually. On the other hand, Vietnam has 0.6 million hectare and produces 600.000 ton or four times our productivity! We have a lot of homework to improve our productivity in agriculture sector.

Similar case happens on fishery industry. We produce 1 million ton dry sea weed but only process 10% of them while the rest is exported very cheaply. As comparison, dried sea weed’s price is only 10% of carrageenan, seaweed extract. If carrageenan is processed further to cosmetic, medicine, or ice cream, the value will increase up to 10 times. Ironically we often import product that used our dried sea weed in significantly more expensive price.

Renewable energy: Low consumption of eco friendly energy source

According to Ministry of Energy and Minerals, we have huge potential on renewable energy including but not limited to micro hydro, biomass, solar panel, wind, and nuclear. However according to Sindonews, currently our renewable energy consumption is just 6.8%.

Based on Perpres No.5 year 2006 about National Energy Policy, we plan to have 17% of renewable energy consumption in 2025. The 17% target will consist of 5% biofuel, 5% geothermal, 5% mix of biomass, nuclear, hydro, & wind, and 2% liquid coal. Therefore government plan to increase capacity on those renewable energy with total investment up to 13.2 million USD.

This creates immense opportunity for people who are interested in renewable energy

Marine: Long term plan to connect Indonesia through sea

For every goods we purchase, we pay around 24% of the product cost for logistic cost. This ratio is one of the highest in the world. There are two reasons for this. Firstly, we don’t have enough deep sea port. This causes inefficiency because big ships go to Singapore first, unload their carriage, load it to smaller ships, then send it to ports in Indonesia. Secondly, we have long dwelling time (time needed to load and unload carriage). As comparison, our average dwelling time is 5.7 days while Singapore’s is 1 day and Malaysia’s is around 2 days. This situation triggers President Jokowi to create sea toll by building deep sea port while minimizing dwelling time. Building sea toll means large ships will travel regularly between big cities such as Medan, Jakarta, Surabaya, Makassar, and Sorong.

There are three major implications from the building of sea toll. Firstly, more decentralized economy. Given that major cities outside Java will be more accessible and interconnected, there will be more people who want to conduct business there. In the long run, this will cause trickle down effect where more infrastructure such as houses, offices, schools, etc. will be built. Secondly, huge business opportunity in shipment, transportation, shipyard, spare part, and all other aspects related to marine transportation. According to Kompas (10 March 2016), currently we have 16.142 ships but we only have 81 active shipyards. We definitely need more shipyards to create and repair more ships. Thirdly, there will be more demand for manpower such as helmsmen and logistic experts. Helmsmen play a crucial role to ensure that ship does not hit other ships. This requires expertise that is currently quite rare in Indonesia while we will need more and more helmsmen in the future, same case happens to logistic experts.

In the end, our college degree does not fully define us. What's more important is to be aware with career opportunity around us and make the best out of it. If you are in the middle of confusion to determine the next step for your career and you need someone to talk to, you can reach me out through this link.

On my next article, I will cover about other sectors with great employment opportunity. Check it here


  • “Majors for the Future” by Ina Liem



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